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Syria, Iran: War Of Attrition Or Buckling Under Pressures? – OpEd


By Ali Bluwi

Iran, Syria and their proxies assess that the United States has been politically and economically declining. According to this logic, the United States has been ineffective in pushing forward the Middle East peace process. Furthermore, domestic problems haunt Washington’s political decisions. American withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan coupled with its inability to take part in the war in Libya reveal the scope of its domestic crisis and its inability to twist the arms of Russia and China.

Yet, other political analysts argue that America has not declined but is taking a break. It has changed its political tools thus leading through civilian power, to use Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s term, rather than force. America used NATO to implement the same American objectives. Therefore, we have noticed a militarization aspect of France’s and Britain’s foreign policies despite the fact that the British are more aware than others of how to realize political objectives.

Interestingly, the United States is trying to decouple the Iranian-Syrian strategic and sectarian alliance. However, Washington has learned the lesson of Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan. Although Washington is not in favor of direct military intervention, it is for creating the external and internal conditions to bring down regimes in both Syria and Iran. Economic sanctions and political pressure that is mixed with military power are seen as the best way to bring about a change in Syrian and Iranian behaviors. On top of that there are domestic factors that will surely push both regimes to offer concessions.

Washington realizes that police and ideological states prefer confrontation and war in order to keep all internal differences at bay. This is how such states gain the legitimacy of confrontation and delay reform demands. Americans also realize that nuclear power will have no meaning when the economy erodes and when people’s resentment prevails.

In Syria, there are three key factors that undermine the Assad regime. First, power is the important factor for the regime’s survival. Second, economic decline and the impact of sanctions on people have become evident. This will only expedite the domestic transformation against the regime. Third, ordering the army to turn against people will only increase the scope of defection and the rejection of using power against people. Additionally, the daily cost of moving the troops is some $10 million.

Thus, if the regime’s collapse is a matter of time, then all mediation efforts were designed to give Syria and Iran time to rearrange internal scene. And there is no single international body that can defend another state indefinitely. China is calling on Syria to backtrack from using force and respond positively to the demands of the Syrian people. Russia, also, declared that it couldn’t defend Assad all time.

Naively, Iran thought that by using the Hormuz card it can confuse Washington’s plan in the Middle East. This miscalculation is based on the assumption that the United States has been declining and that it will not be able to use force against Tehran. And yet, American power projection in the Gulf pushed Iran to backtrack from its previous statements. Then all of a sudden, the Iranian statements focus on American presence in the Gulf as a normal matter and that Iran would never close the Strait of Hormuz. Iran thought that by threatening to close the Hormuz, oil prices would increase.

This would only push India and China to influence the American policy. But, these states are interested first and foremost in securing the flow of oil uninterrupted, something that the Iranian policy has failed to achieve. Also, Washington doubled its economic pressures on Tehran. Iran’s scientists are becoming targeted on a daily basis while Iran proved its incapability to retaliate although it was the Israeli Mossad that committed these crimes.

Seen this way, one can easily argue that the secret war on Iran is designed to emasculate Iran from within and to embarrass the state before its citizens. Therefore, one wonders as how Iran can flex its muscles against the external power while failing to protect its scientists and facilities inside Iran?

Both Syria and Iran still think as if Washington is making a choice over with which country to start first. But much of the crises in these countries empower people at the expense of authorities. Therefore, presidency in Syria will be subject to change whether Assad accepts the Arab initiative to delegate his power to his deputy and form an interim government made up of opposition from within and from without. Even if Assad continues with the bloody crackdown on protesters, he is doomed as more internal defection is inevitable.Today, Iran’s provocative policy is no longer effective. At the domestic level, this policy for mobilization is not helpful anymore.

The regime detained some of those who are expected to win elections in case they run for the upcoming presidential elections. This is evident in the case of Rafsanjani’s daughter. Opposition leaders in Iran are expected to stay in jail until the end of the elections.

In brief, we are against any external military attack on either Iran or Syria. Nonetheless, we are against what these countries are doing in the region in their desperate bid to justify domestic authoritarianism and their pursuit of regional role. Therefore, Saudi Arabia refused to be a false witness to what is taking place in Syria. Finally, the United States is trying to weaken both Syria and Iran to accelerate their downfall without bloodshed.

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Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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